This brilliant piece – a defence of community groups rights to object – was written by an objector after she was attacked in the paper for being a NIMBY.

This is her response...


It's not easy standing up for what you believe is right.

Every week there seems to be a new community-based action group banding together to issue a "please explain" to various levels of government over plans for their neighbourhood.

Whether it's loss of sand dunes to facilitate road widening, the release of green wedge land for high-density development or a 700 hectare intermodal hub on rural land, these proposals affect communities.

Sure, not everyone will feel the same way and nor should they; open discussion and debate about any issue is the basis of democracy.

The difficult bit is dealing with the occasional self-appointed, sneering social commentator who thinks their opinion is the only one that matters and phooey to everyone else.

These people attempt to stifle debate by trying to categorise anyone involved in community action as "NIMBY's" or "anti-progress".

They use these terms as a dismissive insult and insinuate that action groups are responsible for the lack of investment, jobs growth, and even, in one case, the erosion of democracy itself.

They hint that these groups will complain about all forward planning, that they don't listen to a balanced argument; that they just want to moan about everything.

They do it purely to damage the credibility of community action groups.

The fact is that most action groups are formed because a proposal or decision simply Makes. No. Sense.

They form a group to create a voice with which to discuss alternatives, offer more sensible options, ask questions, mitigate their fears and to collaborate with, and be taken seriously by, government departments who make the decisions.

Sure, there's an element of "Not In My Back Yard", but why is it so wrong to protect what's yours?

Surely anyone who felt their property, lifestyle or family were going to be affected by any sort of proposal would feel protective, so why does the term invoke such contempt?

But, amongst the various groups in Victoria, there is also a strong feeling of "NIABY", or "Not In Anyone's Back Yard".

Community action groups stand up to question the decisions that they believe will have an adverse affect on their community, whether it directly affects them as individuals or their neighbours across the road, the suburb or the state.

And this is the right, and democratic, thing to do.

So next time you're reading the breathless hysteria of a "DIMBA" ("Dollars In My Bank Account") offering a bloody-minded point of view while pouring scorn on anyone who dares disagree, remember, there are two sides to every story and each one is worthy of respect.

As Voltiare said "I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"."


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